Good mentoring relationships can be richly rewarding, not only for the person being mentored, but for the mentor too. Mentors can, among other things, provide exceptional learning experiences for their mentees and, in doing so, expand their mentees’ awareness, insight and perspective.
Here are 4 things you can do to be a good mentor:
- Be credible – The best mentors I’ve encountered have been people that have credibility in, and have personally achieved success in, the area where I’m looking for support. For this reason, most people will seek the guidance of different mentors to help them develop specific skills or qualities, or to help them reach important decisions. Being credible doesn’t mean that you need to have all the answers. The best answers for your mentee will come from their own thinking, with the help of your wisdom to support them.
- Be a positive role model– Good mentors are respected by their mentees. A mentee can learn a lot from their mentor simply by watching how their mentor behaves in any particular situation. Good mentors will also look out for experiences, or even create situations in which their mentees can become involved to learn new things, for example, providing a look behind the scenes or a glimpse at how other people live or do things.
- Be genuinely interested in your mentee as an individual – A mentoring relationship is a very personal one, which is often very important to the mentee, so, as a mentor, you need to get to know your mentee personally, about their hopes and dreams, so you can help them in a way that meets their personal best interest. For this reason, a parent is often not a good mentor for their child, as their parenting relationship and emotional connection will influence their guidance. That’s not to say that a parent can never provide a mentoring moment for their child – they can – however, a parent can’t be as objective as a person who’s independent of the parenting role. In the same way, a manager is also not the best person to mentor someone on their team, as they’ll often have a conflict of interest to contend with, between what’s in the best interest of each individual and what’s in the best interest of their team.
- Share your experiences and insights – In doing so, choose stories that you feel are appropriate and helpful, but do so in a neutral way, without any attachment to how your mentee will use this learning. Be open to sharing your mistakes and failures too, as these are often where our biggest lessons are learned. It will also help your mentee be aware that challenges will arise, and the way you dealt with the situation might also help them gain insight about how to build resilience.
Do you have your eye on someone – are you available?